Completion of Social Justice Work!


I am happy to report that during this internship I have completed one major directory project as well as a few smaller projects for CBHI that I can attach my name to. It is exciting to send off a major document, created by me, that will be used to better CBHI and the UMass Training Program services. A goal of mine was to produce high quality work that would make a difference in people’s lives and I can proudly say that I have accomplished this! Another goal I had for this summer was to network. Over the past 9 weeks I have collaborated with people who have backgrounds and experience in psychology, the juvenile courts system, the legislative branch, the executive branch, legal work as a judge, legal work as an attorney, and a student at Harvard Law. Meeting all of these working professionals and learning their opinions and past experiences has been an invaluable resource for me. I have learned the many different ways that people can work towards achieving their desired careers.

Click here to see some monthly CARD (Children Awaiting Resolution and Disposition) reports that I helped create.

Here are the Newsletter Archives. The Summer 2013 edition that I helped write and edit will soon be included on this list.

This internship has inspired me to try to gain exposure to more internship opportunities. CBHI gave me a glimpse into the behind the scenes business and government aspects of public health. It would be very helpful if I could find a future internship where I can work more on the front end of the public health field. This would allow me to better understand all levels of the system so I can make a more informed decision about what type of work I would be interested in doing. This internship has also convinced me that I would like to take Professor Altman’s class “American Health Care”. Having a more in depth understanding of the health care system direct from one of the nation’s leading experts would be extremely informative. A colleague of mine also talked to me about many ways to volunteer in the community. One particular volunteer project she introduced me to is CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). This sounds like an interesting way to get involved with children in the court system which is another strong interest of mine.

I strongly advise all students to complete an internship. Internships support students to develop their interests and gain real world experience, but they are also really good for networking. As an intern at CBHI it is very important to ask a lot of questions. CBHI is a very small organization at the cross-section of many larger organizations, so at first it can be difficult to grasp exactly what it is that CBHI does. By asking questions interns can learn more, develop relationships with co-workers, and show their interest. As for any internship, interns should always be eager to ask for additional work to do. By keeping an open line of communication with your supervisor on how you are progressing on given tasks,  your supervisor can learn your strengths and assign additional tasks. Students who intern in the field of public health should know that this is a huge field with many job applications. If you do not love the work at your particular internship, there is a strong chance that another position exists with the type of work you are interested in. Above all, don’t forget to network!

CBHI exists so that kids with behavioral/mental health issues receive proper mental health evaluations and treatment plans. This mission for social justice is something that people generally agree is necessary. This internship has taught me that the execution of social justice is much more complicated than the general agreement that these kids deserve the right services. Every stakeholder involved in providing children with better behavioral/mental health services has a different opinion on how this mission should be carried out. The stakeholders involved in this particular example of social justice are the court plaintiffs, court defendants, clinical managers, clinicians, CBHI workers, the government, caregivers, and most importantly the children. With so many different perspectives to balance, it can be challenging to meet the needs of all the parties involved. This can make social justice action frustrating; however, this internship has taught me that change does come slowly. I have learned the value of gaining input from those being impacted. CBHI does a lot of outreach work and progress reports to evaluate how they can provide even better services. These types of projects that CBHI completes has taught me that in order to be a better worker it is important to gain input from others and ask for help when needed.

ElizbethChaflin ’15

Busy Working at CBHI

The major task that I am completing as an intern with CBHI is a directory so that we as the CANS training providers can have direct communication with those supervisors who are in charge of CANS training within their prospective organizations. In order to make this directory I drafted a letter which was sent to CANS news email list serve. I then created an excel spreadsheet to document the contact information that I receive. I have been very satisfied with the number of responses and the willingness to become a part of this directory. So far, I have entered about 150 people into the directory. My next steps will be to filter through the data and contact some of the people again to make sure that we are receiving complete information and the contact information of the right individual within each organization. I am most proud of my accomplishments on this task because this is one project that is completely my own.

My Cubicle!
My Cubicle!

Academically, this internship has helped me progress towards completing the HSSP major. My time at CBHI has also given me a glimpse into what it is like to work in the health care field. Thanks to this opportunity, I now have a better idea of which aspects of a work environment I am looking for in a future career. This internship has been very useful in connecting me with other working professionals and fellow students who share similar passions related to social work and law.

I have met with employees from the Office of the Child Advocate who are also interested in both law and social work.
I regularly check in with my supervisor and members from the department to discuss tasks that I am assigned to and work that CBHI is doing. When I first began this internship I did not understand a lot of the information that was discussed at staff or interdepartmental meetings. I am aware of my growth because now that I have spent about 5 weeks with this organization, I understand and contribute to discussions.  I also have a much greater understanding of the MassHealth program and services, which is the umbrella organization that CBHI is a part of.

Boston Common
Boston Common

This internship has taught me about government organizations and how agencies within the government are run on the business and customer service end. In school you learn about the three branches of government and how there are agencies within them that work to provide the needs of the state. However, now that I have experienced working in the government firsthand, I have a much better understanding of how different agencies and organizations work together to complete projects. While I do not plan on working for the government in the future (I actually want to work as a lawyer with children), it is helpful as both a citizen and a professional in the workforce to have an understanding of how your state is run.

This chart shows how CBHI fits into the organization of state government.

Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market are right down the street
Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market are right down the street

In terms of academics, I am an HSSP major and this internship involves MassHealth services, mental and behavioral health issues, and matters of general public concern. By having this internship I will have a better understanding of how what I am learning in class applies to real world issues and potential jobs in the future. The specific duties of my internship require me to contact many clinicians and psychologists who work with children seeking mental and behavioral health assistance. While I am not the one specifically working to help improve the health of these children, I am learning how to professionally communicate with and reach out to others. One major lesson I have learned through this internship is that in order for social and health care services (as well as any other service/good) to be possible, a lot of behind the scenes work and business/bureaucratic applications such as contracts and development meetings must be involved. Prior to my internship, I did not expect public health work to require so much business work as well. This realization has taught me that no matter the specific industry one goes into there are always business applications involved. Hopefully I will be able to apply those business aspects that I have learned in this internship to my future career as a child advocate.

-Elizabeth Chalfin ’15

First Week at CBHI


WOW Blog 1C       WOW Blog 1B

Massachusetts State House                           1 Ashburton Place

My internship is with the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) in Boston, MA. CBHI is a division of the department of Health and Human Services which is a branch of the Massachusetts State Government. This organization was founded in 2008 in response to the case of Rosie D v Patrick which stated that families with children on MassHealth deserve more standardized and transparent behavioral health screenings. The mission of this organization is to prevent inadequate behavioral health screenings, promote community based care, and help children be successful in all domains of their lives. My organization specifically works to develop and improve the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) tool. CANS is used by clinicians and psychiatrists as part of a comprehensive analysis when they meet with children struggling with behavioral health issues. CANS is a standardization tool that allows health care providers can properly screen and assess both the needs and the strengths of individual children, so that the proper treatment plan can be made. My organization helps to train health care providers to implement the CANS into their practice, improves the CANS technology so that it best meets the needs of both the clinician and the patient, and works to provide many resources that families on Mass Health can turn to for behavioral health services. In a nutshell, CBHI provides the training and support to health care providers so that they can provide the most responsive and accommodating care.

This is a link to the CBHI webpage

I will have various responsibilities within CBHI. I will attend meetings within the department as well as with health care supervisors to gain input on how to improve CANS and offer suggestions for training and screening development. One major task I will complete is the creation of an extensive list of all statewide training directors who provide Mass Health. This list will improve communication between our organization and those using our services so that training methods and materials will be more accessible and clear to those using CANS.


WOW Blog 1A


I found this internship with the help of Cynthia Tschampl who I met with in December. She directed me to a few internship postings that she was aware of, one of which was CBHI. In February I met with Deborah McDonagh from the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative. At the interview Deborah and I discussed my experience, duties of the internship, and each of our goals. Later in February, Deborah contacted me and told me that she would offer me the position.

In my first week I completed the CANS online training and took the certification test. I am now certified to provide CANS assessments. While I will not use this training because I am not a certified clinician, this training has helped me better understand what CBHI does and how CANS works. I also spent this past week attending meetings, one of which was with behavioral health providers in the Boston area. This meeting was both interesting and informative in helping me to better comprehend provider concerns, technological developments coming in the near future, and understand how collaborative work between many interests can work towards a common goal.

This is a link to a list of Newsletter archives that I read through this past week to better understand the CANS training program:

My impression is that everybody working to provide these improved behavioral health screenings is very dedicated. Everyone wants what is best for the children and their families. I believe that the projects I am assigned to are necessary and will be extremely useful in the future. This internship will teach me about policy making, the behavioral health system, and how to become an effective advocate. My hope is that the relationships I am developing now will continue years down the road when I go on to a future career with child advocacy and social work. Additionally, this internship will help me gain leadership skills, maintain professionalism, and develop meaningful connections. 

Elizabeth Chalfin, ’15


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